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Contra Costa public employee union seeks Andersen appointment

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, June 14th, 2012 at 3:55 pm in 2012 primary election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics.

Candace Andersen

Contra Costa Public Employees Union Local One may have endorsed her opponent but now that Danville Mayor Candace Andersen has won the District 2 supervisor seat in a landslide, the labor group is graciously asking Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint the victor.

“Ms. Andersen was decisively elected to the District 2 seat,” wrote Local One General Manager Larry Edginton in a letter to the governor’s office. “The voters of that district have spoken. They have elected Mayor Andersen to represent them on the Board of Supervisors. There is no reason not to fill it or appoint someone else.”

The Contra Costa Building Trades and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo — both endorsed Contra Costa Community College District board President Tomi Van de Brooke — have also sent letters recommending the appointment.

Local One, which represents 2,000 Contra Costa County employees, rightly argues that District 2 residents deserve a representative as soon as possible and the restoration of a fifth supervisor will avert any potential tie votes that might create governance programs.

Andersen beat Van de Brooke on June 5 by 31 percentage points. She will take the office held by the late Gayle Uilkema, who intended to retire at the end of the year but died in May from ovarian cancer.

The district office has been without a full-time supervisor since last winter, however. Uilkema had been unable to work for much of the year although she tried to keep up from home until very close to her death.

Andersen’s term doesn’t  officially start until Jan. 1, 2013, but the governor could appoint her to the post early. As a general law county, only the governor may fill vacant supervisor positions.

The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a similar request of the governor at its June 26 meeting.

There’s no official word out of the governor’s office yet although nothing is likely to happen until after the election results have been certified.

But there is no obvious barrier to the appointment. Partisanship is unlikely to disqualify the Republican mayor because she won by such a vast margin. She also generally opposes new taxes but says she hasn’t taken a position on the governor’s tax initiative, hasn’t signed a “no new taxes pledge” and says she won’t, and has supported all the school bonds and tax measures in the San Ramon Valley.

“I’ve been in contact with the governor’s appointment in office to find out what they need from me,” Andersen said. “I’m hopeful it will happen in July but it is in the governor’s hands.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • JohnW

    How many letters does Jerry need from D’s and labor to give him political cover to proceed? He could and should have made the appointment the morning after the election. It’s not complicated.

  • rew

    Like to see Anderson move quickly on these boated public safety pensions, we’ve got to put an end to fireman retiring at $220,000 annually. Fair pensions yes, elephant sized pensions no. Voters are hopping mad about these mega pensions that allow Contra Costa retiree’s to party it up with Sammy Haggar down in Cabo San Lucas six months a year. And let’s put an end to double dipping too, no more retiring today – at age 52 – and then immediatly going back to work on the CC County public payroll. We’ve got kids graduating from college that need jobs. tons of people out of work, this double dipping stuff has got to end. Jerry Bown is stopping this in Sacramento, we need to do this in Martinez too.

  • Majore

    This is hysterical. Local 1, along with 1230 Firefighters backed Tomi early, fought for her, and participated in mean and nasty mailers against Andersen and now they try to “fix” things by sending a letter to the Governor’s office?! Give me a break. You picked the wrong candidate, said horrible things about Andersen, and your moves now are simply amateur hour. Next time select a better candidate to support Local 1 and 1230! Face it, you lost and has you have done in other recent county races. Get a better political consultant and Union leaders folks…

  • JohnW

    She won’t be able to do anything unilaterally. It would take a coalition of Anderson, Piepho and one of the non-conservatives on the board to force the issue.

    The general public doesn’t seem to get it as to just how out of whack these pensions are. If somebody makes private sector comparisons, the defenders of the status quo toss out “average pension” numbers that are totally misleading; or say they knowingly took a lower salary to be a public servant in exchange for a higher pension; or argue that instead of a “race to the bottom,” private sector plans should be increased; or that they pay into the plan; or just argue that “a deal’s a deal,” no matter how unsustainable.

    Back in the day many moons ago when defined benefit pensions were more common in the private sector, the plans that blue chip companies offered pale in comparison to the public employee plans — not just today’s public plans, but the plans that existed before they raised them 50% during Gray Davis’s tenure. In terms of the total retirement lifetime amount to be paid out from date of retirement to normal life expectancy, the public plans for general employees (not even considering public safety or spiking) are about three times as generous as the best of the private sector plans that once existed. That’s taking into consideration earlier start date for receiving a full pension, the automatic cost of living increases, the “final year” income and “multiplier” used to calculate the pension. It’s unbelievable.

  • Common Tater

    Lisa, you need to get rid of that gosh-awful photo of Candace and use a different one. Her website has an excellent photo of her in a red outfit.

  • Rick K.

    I agree completely with Rew’s and John W.’s statements. Gray Davis’ S.B. 400, signed in December 1999, deserves much of the blame for the outrageous public safety pensions across California. (John W. refers to the “50%” increase in pension benefits to some state workers under S.B. 400 — he’s absolutely correct — CHP retirees moved from a 2% at 50 to a 3% at 50 system, even though those retirees hadn’t contributed a dime towards their 50% higher pensions!) Local governments, including Contra Costa County in 2002 in the Moraga-Orinda Fire District in 2003, “had” to follow the state’s lead in order to retain their employees. Many local governments have been forced to ratchet down their unsustainable pension schemes by sheer economics, but Sacramento apparently has done nothing to amend S.B. 400 for new hires, etc. (Yet Sacramento politicians want voters to raise their taxes in November, which really is a “bail out” for these over-generous pensions.) The ultimate test of Supervisor Andersen’s credibility as a responsible county official will be how she handles public safety workers’ pay and benefits. She campaigned as a pension reformer, yet received lavish campaign support from county public safety worker unions. If “pension reform” to Supervisor Andersen means “let’s issue a couple of symbolic anti-pension spiking press releases and then do nothing that actually affects my public safety union friends who helped elect me (a la Mark DeSaulnier, co-creator of Contra Costa’s pension mess),” then voters should have asked tougher questions of her during the recent campaign. But Supervisor-elect Andersen deserves the benefit of the doubt. A Supervisor Van den Brooke very likely would have joined Supervisors Gioia, Glover and Mitchoff in lockstep in blocking any meaningful pension reforms because their union “puppet masters” keep them on very short leashes. This factor alone may explain Andersen’s landslide victory on June 5th.

  • Common Tater

    If you look at Candace’s campaign website, it shows that only 6 percent of her funding has come from unions and PACs, almost all of that from law enforcement unions. That’s hardly “lavish.”

    Compare to Tomi’s union funding of 44 percent.

  • rew

    I am skeptical Anderson will do anything about these bloated public safety pensions, given her backing of law enforcement unions. For many politicians pension reform for public safety unions is off table, reform for everybody else, but not for public safety workers. I think 2.5% per year for each year worked is fine, but 3% a year is too much, I think that’s excessive. This ace reporter Dan Borenstein of the Times thinks so too, he has written many articles explaining to Contra Costa Times readers how these unfunded retiree benefits are unsustainable, they are bankrupting cities up and down state. I’m a blue collar worker myself – I strongly favor high wages, but I am just aghast when I read about these public safety workers retiring with $100,000 a year pensions at age 52, it’s like wow, they hit the lottery or something. The public reads about this stuff and they think, geez, what’s going on with our elected officials, that’s taxpayer money they are giving away. Fair pensions yes, bloated mega pensions no, that’s my mantra. We’ve got colleges to fund, roads to fix, health care for the poor, I mean we have a lot of things to pay for, so we can’t have 40% of the budgets going to retirees. That’s just common sense.

  • JohnW

    Disagree with Rew that 2.5% is fine. That means an employee who retires at 55 after 30 years with final year pay of $80k will have a starting pension of $60k. With average life expectancy of 83 (28 years in retirement), that adds up to $1.7 million in lifetime retirement pay. Factor in cost of living increases, it’s more like $2.2 million. That doesn’t include lifetime healthcare, spiking etc. and is probably more than the employee was paid in inflation-adjusted dollars during his or her working years.

    Compare with a blue chip 1970′s style private sector defined benefit pension. The multiplier would be more like 1.5%, based on average of the last 3 or 5 years, and would have no contractual cost of living adjustments. Full pension would not start until age 65. Might be allowed 80% of full pension at 62 or 50% at 55 to take into account the higher number of years receiving a pension. In the case of the $80k employee, the “final 3″ average might be, say, $70k. Using the 1.5% multiplier based on 30 years, the pension would be $32k. With 18 years of retirement (65-83), that adds up to $576k lifetime retirement pay — slightly more than one fourth of the public employee example. The assumption was a three-legged stool of pension, Social Security and personal savings. Most public employees, except safety and teachers, get SS on top of the pension. People who received those traditional private sector pensions were considered very fortunate.

    The private sector example is very close to a real world pension plan of a Fortune 500 company that has always been known for it’s generous benefits.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Let us therefore brace ourselves for the testing time in our great representative democracy and not be afraid to take precautionary measures when deemed necessary by reasonable and prudent electors.

  • Claire Voyance

    Don’t get your hopes up. The public parasites (i.e. government employees) ALWAYS find a new way to screw the sucker taxpayers.

    HUGE vacation and sick pay cash outs

    Longevity bonuses

    Extra pay for education, training, credentials, wearing their uniform, etc.

    Technology allowances

    Pension contributions “in lieu of” raises

    Vehicle allowances

    Cash payments “in lieu of” medical insurance payments

    Supplemental retirement accounts

    Pension spiking

    etc.

    etc.

    etc.

    The public parasites will surely find a new way to suck money out of the sucker taxpayers.

  • Claire Voyance

    A Contra Costa County firefighter had total cost of employment of $380,666

    INCLUDING $161,642 in overtime pay

    http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/2011

  • JohnW

    @12

    Hey, by gosh, you’re talking about First Responders. It’s downright un-American to question the compensation.

    Go to Contra Costa County and select “Fire.” There are 12 pages of data. The total compensation cost for each person on the first page is greater than $300k. You have to get to page 7 before you find anybody listed at below $200k and to page 9 for anybody below $150K. Total comp. cost for a Senior Office Assistant is $128k. Same for an Accounting Technician (whatever that is).

  • Elwood

    At some point, there has to be a day of reckoning where the public employees and their trained politicians are brought down with the rest of us.

    This will, of course, be accompanied by a great deal of moaning, groaning and gnashing of teeth. It will make Wisconsin look like a church picnic.

    It will not be pleasant, but it must be done if we are not to become another Greece.

  • Claire Voyance

    “Bring Us Your Finest Meats and Cheeses”

    In the last 10 fiscal years (FY 2001-02 through FY 2010-11), Contra Costa County taxpayers have spent $307,749 on food for CCCFPD.

    In FY 2007-2008, Contra Costa County taxpayers spent a whopping $57,173 on food for CCCFPD.

    Contra Costa County taxpayers should NOT be paying for food for CCCFPD staff, especially when highly compensated CCCFPD staff have more than enough money to buy their own damn food.

  • Bruce R. Peterson Lafayette

    Lisa V. wrote an article about the Fire District’s tax workshop. I keep looking for a blog with comments about it. Maybe some day?
    I will have to edit my little speech by next Tuesday, the 26th.
    I expect pigs to fly, before The CCC, BOS. pays any attention to peoples comments. It is the only way to see government at play.